By REBECCA HAZEN
The first annual Smoke on the Square barbecue contest event will be this Saturday, Sept. 11, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Veterans Memorial Park, located on the square.
Proceeds from the event will benefit A Hand UP Ministry, a faith-based ministry for people who have recently left the prison system.
“I am on the board of A Hand UP Ministry,” co-organizer Jason Rooks said. “I do a little bit of barbecuing too. I was watching BBQ Pitmasters one day, and I thought, ‘We could do a barbecue contest fundraiser for A Hand UP.’”
Rooks continued, “I’ve been in similar situations as those guys and guys that participate in the program. The difference is that I had a place to go, where a lot of people don’t. We are trying to provide a safe place for them.”
Barbecuing teams from all over the local area have signed up for the contest. Right now there are about 10 teams signed up.
“The competition will be for three cuts of meat: ribs, pork and chicken,” co-organizer Anthony Jones said. “The teams will cook all night at Veterans Memorial Park and most of the day Saturday.”
They will be cooking for the County Commissioners and Sheriff Ray Cross, who will be the judges.
The teams have to present their finished meals to the judges at 2, 2:30 and 3 p.m.
“It’s a completely blind test. They will have no idea who’s turning in the meat,” Jones said.
There are cash prizes for first, second and third place winners, and a trophy as well. The winner with the highest scores of all three categories will become the grand champion. The awards will be given out at 4:30 p.m.
In addition to the contest, there will be plates of barbecue for sale during the event.
There will be many other different kinds of entertainment. There will be different music groups performing throughout the day. There will also be a cornhole tournament, and up to 20 arts and crafts vendors. There will be a kid zone, consisting of inflatables. People can also have a chance to win door prizes.
Items will be raffled off during the event, including a Pit Boss Pellet Grill, a Blackstone griddle, an Escort Slugger shotgun, Y2 Cooler, and a one-night stay from WanderChatt, a local vacation rental company. Raffle tickets are $10 each or $40 for five tickets, and will be sold until 4 p.m. during the event. The raffle winners will be announced after the barbecue contest winners.
Rooks and Jones hope to have a patriotic tribute, because the event is being held on Sept. 11.
There will also be testimony from people who have been involved with A Hand UP Ministry throughout the day.
“I’m thankful for Jason and Misty Rooks for heading up the first annual Smoke on the Square for a Hand Up fundraiser. I’m very thankful for all their hard work. It will go toward our commitment to reach as many men and women as possible who need a hand up,” Rex Mayo, founder of A Hand Up Ministry said.
For more information visit Smoke on the Square BBQ on Facebook, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (256) 601-9739.